If it weren’t for my friend Stephie who posted on Facebook that she’d just made kale pesto… I would have never thought to do this! I’ve made pesto from basil, spinach, parsley and even arugula. But never thought to use kale!
Kale is such a super food… add walnuts, olive oil and lemon zest and this little gem is unstoppable. I’ve struggled to find ways to prepare kale that I enjoy. It can be bitter and a little tough. But I could eat this pesto by the spoonful! I’m currently enjoying it on a Triscuit® but you can put it on just about anything. I’m thinking about smothering a chicken breast with it for dinner.
So run , don’t walk, to your nearest grocery (or better yet, Farmer’s Market)… buy a large batch of kale (curly, flat – it doesn’t matter)… a good size lemon (Myer lemons if you can find them!) and some fresh garlic and make enough to eat all week! Keep in mind that the shelf-life for this pesto is about a week… so try to eat a little every day. Read the Perfect Health section below to see why you want to incorporate kale into as many meals as you can.
4-6 cups (about 6.5 ounces) kale leaves, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
2 large fresh garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped (or 2 tblspns minced)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts (raw is fine but toasting brings out their nuttiness)
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil (for extra walnut taste (blend olive oil with walnut oil)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Remove ribs from kale and give it a rough chop. In a large pot, bring water to a boil with a couple of pinches of salt. Prepare a large boil of ice water and set aside. Once water in boiling, add kale for about 1 minute. Your kale will start to turn a brighter green. Remove from kale pot and immediately put in ice water. This is called blanching and is what helps give (and keep) your kale a bright green. Remove kale from ice water after 1 minute and pat dry.
Peel and roughly chop two large bulbs of garlic. If you are using pre-minced garlic, this is roughly 2 tablespoons.
If you are roasting your walnuts, place then in a dry saute pan over medium heat. Continue moving them in the pan until you begin to smell their nuttiness. It should take about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they burn easily (which is why I don’t put them in the oven anymore – I always forget them!).
Ready to Make?
In a food processor, add the kale, garlic, Parmesan and walnuts. Pulse 6-7 times until it’s well-combined. Slowly, through the feed tube, drizzle the oil until mixture is moist and holds together. Remove lid and zest your lemon directly into mixture. Zest, and not juice, makes all the difference here. It’s sweet and tangy and every once in a while you’ll get a burst of it in your mouth. So delish. But feel free to add a little juice for extra lemony flavor. Now add salt and pepper, return lid and pulse a couple of more times. NOTE: It’s important to use the pulse feature and not let your processor run… you want to retain some of the leafy texture of the kale and not make mush. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. And presto you have pesto!
The Perfect Bite
Whenever making a dip or spread or something that is not meant to be eaten on its own… it’s important to taste-test it once just with a spoon and then again with what you plan on having it with. On it’s own it may taste like it needs more salt, but if you plan on eating it with salty chips or crackers… it may be fine as it is once combined with it’s dipping partner.
The Perfect Pairing
Since this is a new item to me… I may discover more and more pairing as I go.. so check back regularly, I may be adding more pairings as the week goes by. Right now I am enjoying this on a cracker… but as I mentioned earlier, I plan to try it on a chicken breast for dinner. Also, I’m certain this will be delightful on a crostini and absolutely divine mixed into some whole wheat pasta. Let me know if you try it on something yummy! Enjoy this with a crisp pinot grigio.
The Perfect Health
Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits. Read more about the benefits of here.